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Gallion shares with children her love of reading

August 16, 2010|By JANET HEIM
  • Ruth Gallion volunteers at Clear Spring Elementary School through the Retired Senior Volunteer Program run by the Washington County Commission on Aging. Gallion mostly works with students who needed help with reading.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

CLEAR SPRING -- Ruth Gallion worked as a nurse in Washington County for 47 years, but feels her calling now is to share her love for reading with local students.

As retirement from her job approached, Gallion, 68, knew she wanted to help children read.

"It's such an entirely different thing to go from nursing to this," Gallion said.

About the same time, a story ran in The Herald-Mail about RSVP, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program run by the Washington County Commission on Aging. Volunteer coordinator Charlotte Levens was seeking older volunteers willing to work in several Washington County Public Schools.

Gallion signed on a year and a half ago and was given the choice of working with kindergarten, first- or fourth-grade students. She picked fourth grade because two of her grandchildren were that age.

"It worked out real well. It fell into place," said Gallion, who started volunteering before her August 2009 retirement.

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She admits to being a bookworm, sometimes reading when she should be doing something else.

"I'm always in a book," Gallion said.

She encourages her five grandchildren, all younger than 12, to read. They have come to expect books from her as gifts, she said.

She was placed with Monica Bowers at Clear Spring Elementary School, which was a good fit. Bowers will move to Hancock Elementary this school year, so Gallion will be assigned another teacher with whom to work.

Gallion is proof that it doesn't take a big commitment of time to make a difference. She said she volunteers one hour a week, mostly working one-on-one with students who need extra help with reading.

"I see a big difference. Even 10 to 15 minutes with each child makes a big difference," she said.

In addition to practicing reading, Gallion said Bowers provided games with word cards and board games to keep things interesting for the students. Several times, she got to accompany the class to the school's library and help them pick out books.

She said she would have liked to help more, but her husband of almost 40 years, Marshall Gallion, recently had a small stroke. As his health improves, she's hoping to be able to volunteer twice a week.

Gallion, whose maiden name is Weddle, grew up in Hagerstown's West End. She is a 1959 graduate of North Hagerstown High School and was in the 1962 class of Washington County Hospital's nursing school.

She and Marshall live in Clear Spring and have two adult daughters.

She recently completed a two-year term as president of the Washington County Hospital School of Nursing Alumni and is now vice president. She is active at Washington Square United Methodist Church.

Gallion said seeing the students she worked with progress and knowing how much her efforts were appreciated made it a good experience for her.

"It was cute last year. The kids wanted to know if I was going up to fifth grade with them," Gallion said.

A party in her honor near the end of this past school year included a cake and a note signed by Bowers and all of her students with the following message -- "Miss Ruth, thank you for instilling a love for reading!"

More information about volunteer opportunities with RSVP may be obtained by calling Levens at 301-790-0275.

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